Tomorrow will mark my one-year anniversary at Schroder PR. (That statement makes me feel old and young at the same time.) I have definitely learned a lot, made a lot of mistakes, and grown not only as a PR professional, but as a person too.
Here are three things I’d like to share about my first full year with a real job.
1) I know what I’m doing.
If you know me (or have ever read anything I’ve written), you know I’m a PR dork … big time. I love it. I read books, articles, blogs and anything else I can about it. If I won the lottery, I’d still want to work in PR.
I said that to say this: I know what I’m doing. Over the last year, I’ve had to come to terms with my own insecurities and realize that in order to do a good job, I needed to know I was doing a good job. I don’t know everything – not by a long shot, but that’s why Schroder PR has an awesome team that I can turn to if I need help.
In my second month at Schroder PR, Chris and my other teammates went out of town and weren’t completely accessible at all times. I was pitching a new development project in Midtown and everything was fine … until someone at 11Alive wanted an interview and more information.
What should have been an awesome feeling of a successful pitch terrified me. “What do I do now? What if the reporter calls? What do I say!? What if … what if!?”
I’m pretty sure I emailed the team eight times and then called them after each email. Even though I knew all about the project, knew the clients and how to contact them, and could easily handle that situation today, I had NO confidence in my work or abilities at the time. I thought Chris could do it better – he could and can – and I was going to screw up everything. Turns out, I didn’t. I arranged an interview, met the reporter and client at the determined location and everything went smoothly. I established a relationship with the reporter and showed the client we could achieve TV placement in a short amount of time.
Small successes like that helped build my confidence and now I don’t freak out every time my office line rings, I get an email from a journalist or I have to plan an interview. I’ve learned I work with brilliant people who will be there to back me up if needed and that I am pretty good at my job, and hopefully I’ll keep getting better.
2) Some clients will stop working with you. Deal with it.
When I began at SPR I started handling some smaller accounts almost exclusively. I still received copious advice from Chris, but as far as client contact, I was first in line with one client in particular.
I thought everything was going so well. I talked to the in-house marketing contact at this company almost daily, created eNewletters that were well-received and secured media placement, among other things.
Then one day, when we were renewing our contract with them, I was informed we were not included in the budget, therefore ending our relationship with the company.
To say I was crushed is an understatement. I thought this was entirely my fault, I was getting fired and I must have done a terrible job. Even though Chris assured me it was fine, I had lost confidence in myself (see above).
In retrospect, that was a little dramatic. The company in question was a small firm, whose budget had been cut and, like many others, felt PR services were easiest to let go. (Side note – one of my favorite quotes is, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” – Bill Gates)
I quickly was fulfilled with new clients and opportunities and am still learning to have confidence in my work. There have been other clients unable to renew, but I have learned that I can’t control that. Our country is in a recession, firms cut back and sometimes PR is brought in-house. I have to focus on the work and clients I have now and continue to give 110 percent to each and every project.
3) What I thought I’d be doing vs. what I do vs. what my friends think I do
Unlike some graduates, I felt very prepared for my first Atlanta internship, and then job – I knew what PR was going to be like and what I wanted to do. I was wrong.
At my internship with BRAVE PR, I was involved in everything from planning a fashion show to promoting Broadway musicals. It was all very cool and I’m so blessed to have that experience.
When I was brought on at Schroder PR, I realized I was dealing with a different kind of clientele. I didn’t even know what a mortgage was, much less what to write in a press release about a mortgage firm.
Fast-forward to now – I can tell you a lot about a lot. Each day is filled with new challenges and new opportunities to learn, and that makes each day eventful and interesting. I’m not stuck at a boring job I hate. I am able to come to work – or occasionally work in sweats at home – each day and learn something. It’s not always event planning and fashion shows, but it is working with amazing people all over the country, growing in the career I love … and occasionally flying on private jets.
Even though what I thought I would be doing is different than what I am doing, it’s still different than what my friends think I do. I think a third of them think I “play” on Facebook and Pinterest all day; a third have no idea I could code a website, handle a few client crises and distribute a national press release with an Infographic to targeted media – all before lunch; the last third think I go to liquid lunches (Mad Men style) each day and get to go to events, dinners and professional sports games to “work.” (To be fair, I do those things sometimes. Have I mentioned I love my job?)
This last year has been so fantastic and I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for me. I feel like these three lessons learned have helped me develop into a valuable team player and resource who is able to serve clients well. I would love to hear what you’ve learned in the last year, whether it was your first year on the job like me or maybe your 40th!